Simple Steps For Search Engine Optimisation

Martin Hansen-Lennox

Published Mon 01 Jun by Martin Hansen-Lennox in Recommended Articles and Marketing More Effectively

Gain a higher ranking in search engines such as Google by learning theses basic steps to optimise your web presence

Every day, growing competition online means it's easier for your website to get lost in the crowd.

How can you avoid this happening?

We’ve gathered together some simple explanations and practical guidance in this in-depth article to help you to learn the basics of on and off page optimisation.

Here’s what we’ll be covering:

    1. How search engines work
    2. Search engine optimsation on page factors
    3. On page factors - practical guidance
    4. Search engine optimisation: off page factors
    5. Off page factors - practical guidance

How Search Engines Work to Give Your Website Traffic

Google (and other search engines) store all known websites and webpages in a gigantic database called an index. This is automatically updated with thousands of new pages and websites every day.

The index contains all kinds of information about each webpage, including factors such as:

  • The visible text on the page
  • The subject matter and reputation of the website the page belongs to
  •  How recently the page has been updated
  • How many other webpages are linking to that page

When somebody searches Google, it uses this information to decide which pages to display, and in what order. But how does Google decide which web pages are the best match?

Google keep the specifics to themselves, but two key ingredients of the secret source are keywords and key phrases.

SEO On Page Factors

Search engine optimisation refers to what you can do on your web pages to increase traffic to your website.

For each page on your website, your keyword should be included in these three places:

1. The Page’s URL

Each page on your website has a unique “address”, called a URL.

2. The Page’s Content

The page’s content is what the end user actually sees. Headings, paragraphs of text, images, etc.

3. The Page’s Metatags

Metatags are invisible to users, but provide information to search engines.

Practical Guidance

1. The Page URL

Each page on your website has a unique “address” – this is its URL. Keywords in a page’s URL are good. If you have a blog, news or shopping cart section, it might help to use your primary keywords as category titles.

To be search engine and user friendly we’d recommend the following:

  • Keep it simple – This will improve search engine optimisation, usability and accessibility of all your pages
  • Keep it organised – Make sure your web developer structures your URLs logically
  • Make them easy to remember – using words that actually relate to your web page file names

2. The Page Content

It’s very important that your keywords are mentioned throughout the page’s visible text.

Ideally it will also appear in any HTML headings, links and lists on the page.

Page Content and Headings – Correct Text Formatting

Text formatting refers to the layout of your webpages. Headings within your web page content are often ranked more highly than regular text.

Why?

Search engines recognise and understand the hierarchy of importance just as your readers do.

Most websites have a content managed system like the example below, so it pays to use the correct formatting when you add content to your web pages.

3. Meta tags

  • They are part of your pages’ HTML code (we’ll show you an example of this later)
  • They are invisible to the person viewing the page, but provide information to search engines
  • Your keywords should be in a page’s metatags – particularly the <title> tag 

<title>

Appears in search result

Should include keywords

<description>

Appears in search result

Acts as “elevator pitch”

No need to include keywords

Practical Guidance

  • Generally we recommend targeting one keyword or phrase per page. Ideally, this word will appear:
  • In the URL of the page (e.g. www.website.com/wedding-dresses/lace)
  • In the <title> metatag of the page
  • Various times throughout the visible text on the page – particularly at the top of the page and in the following HTML tags:
  • <h1> The main visible heading of the page – ideally will match the <title> meta tag
  • <h2>, <h3> Any sub headings
  • <a> In links
  • <ul>, <ol> Bullet lists (ul = unordered list) and numbered lists (ol = ordered lists) Use theses for your products / service 
  • The alt tag attribute - <imgsrc = "red.arrow.jpg "alt="red arrow"> - used to provide a description of the image file. This helps in the following ways:
  • Helps provide a text description to users who are visually impaired and may be using screen readers
  • If the images are not displayed for some reason, you're still providing an informative description
  • Can improve your site placement in Google because it allows the images on your pages to rank in image search results. Learn more in Google support.
  • And finally, add a unique “elevator pitch” to the description metatag of the page.

SEO Off Page Factors

Promoting and managing your site to increase the number and quality of “inbound links” (when other websites contain links to your website) primarily affects HOW WELL you’re ranked for the terms of on page SEO.

A successful SEO strategy will consider both on and off page factors to ensure they work harmoniously together.

Off-page SEO refers to activities outside the boundaries of the webpage. The four most important are

1. Inbound Links

Each link to your website from another website counts as a “vote”.

2. Regular Fresh Content

New content demonstrates an actively managed site, targets long tail keywords and gives Google plenty of text to sink its teeth into

3. Directories , Social Media + Google Tools (e.g. Analytics)

Also demonstrate an actively managed site, encourages human interaction and inbound links

4. Age of Domain/Website, Site Metrics and “Expert Sites”

Other factors that can influence how your website is ranked 

All demonstrate an actively managed site, encourage human interaction and inbound links

Inbound links are links FROM other websites INTO your website.

  • THE most important factor in your website ranking – each link counts as a “vote”
  • How fast is the number of inbound links to your site growing? “Hot Topic” or “Permanent Source of Info”
  • The originating site is very important - links from "expert" sites such as The BBC or Wikipedia are very valuable, while links from “spammy” / low quality sites can actually damage your reputation 
  • Beware of SEO experts selling or promising “XXX links per month for just... £XXX” – go for quality not volume
  • WARNING: Getting inbound links from quality sites is actually very hard – it takes dedication, persistence and hard work. This is something spam website owners will never be able to provide. Suggestions to follow later.

Anchor Text

The “anchor text” in a link are the words that are clicked on.

E.g. Click here to see our full range of services. The anchor text in this link are the words “Click here”.

When other websites link to your website, the anchor text is important. We’ll demonstrate this later on.

Ideally, your keywords should make up the “anchor text” of your link. You’ll see many web designers put something like the below on their clients’ websites:

Visible on Page: website by: web design nottingham

HTML Code for Link: website by http://www.web-design-nottingham.com”>web design nottingham

Regular Fresh Content

Regular new website content is a sign of a real person / team behind a well maintained site.

This is very powerful when combined with a steadily growing number of inbound links.

Targeting Short Tail Keywords

If your blog / news section has different categories, use your short tail keywords as category titles..

Targeting Long Tail Keywords

Updatable areas on your website such as product catalogues, blogs and news sections are perfect for targeting niche phrases and long tail keywords.

This can happen intentionally or accidently through sheer volume of text on your website!

Age, Site Metrics and “Expert Sites"

Age of your website shows a certain amount of stability

Some suggest the length of time a domain name is renewed for also has an effect – Coca Cola renew for 10 years and spammy domains typically registered for just one.

Site Metrics

How many visitors? Time spent on page / on website? Bookmarked Page? Liked it on Facebook? etc.

“Expert” Sites

Large sized sites with regular fresh content following a clear structure

Inbound links from other quality websites (BBC / Wikipedia)

Many visitors, spending a long time on individual pages and the domain in general

Directory & Website Listings

Search Engine “Local” Listings Google Places / Yahoo Local

Google Places / Yahoo Local – these are local business services provided for free by search engines (though “premium” options and Pay Per Click advertising are also on offer)

“Classic” Business Directories

Yell, Thomson, Etc. Digital versions of the classic paper directories haven’t transferred well to web.

Go for free listing options and avoid paid “premium” listings.

Free, Local & Niche Business Directories

These are the best ones to go for. Some local and niche directories may even be worth paying for.

Try: freeindex.co.uk / inottinghamshire.co.uk / nottingham.yalwa.co.uk

For the juiciest directories to join, try Google’s top results for: “free business directories {niche/location}”

Google Places / Local Business Listings

Google Places profile is “crucial for any company with a physical location as Google gives a great emphasis on verified and custom local information”.

You can personalise your business profile, add special offer vouchers and include a phone number.

Easy for customers to find directions to your business using Google Maps.

 Yahoo Local Directory (Infoserve)

Infoserve is the official advertising sales partner for Yahoo Local.

They offer free local listings like Google, but the signup page is harder to find.

Premium option available, but benefits are limited and most are available on Google for free.

Impact of Social Media on SEO

Any Benefits from Social Media Accounts Linked to the Website?

Both Google and Bing have admitted that they use ‘social signals’ to help rank search results. Evidence as to exactly how is mixed.

However, social interactivity tends to generate traditional SEO benefits such as more inbound links, more links from “expert” sites, more visitors, good anchor text, etc.

NOTE: Most Facebook / Twitter apps for your website load their content via ajax, so it’s not visible to search engines.

Useful Tools: Alexa

Alexa

A quick and easy monitor of inbound links to your website.

This page is hard to find via their website. We recommend typing in the URL by hand:

Practical Guidance

Inbound Links - Being Link Friendly

Think of your site in terms of “link friendliness” :

1. Make your website content easy to read and understand 

  • Ensure good contrast between text and background
  • Split longer paragraphs up into shorter ones
  • Use more interesting visual devices such as sub-headings and bullet points
  • Use a clean writing style and cut out unnecessary jargon where possible

2. Make sure your website content is professional and authoritative – no spelling errors or bad punctuation

3. Make your content looks appealing – use good photography to accompany your text, place importance on an attractive website design

Inbound Links - Content to Encourage Them

1. Be “link friendly” – easy to read, quality content with photos and no spelling errors.

2. Publish articles / guides on your website: 

  • Top 10 Myths About ...
  • 10 Easy Tips to Help You ...
  • The Ultimate Wedding Checklist

3. Create a list of gurus / experts in your field. Tell them you’ve done it. Befriend them.

4. Interview above gurus + publish on website

5. Create a quality free E-book

6. Post frequent news and updates on your website / Facebook / Twitter

7. Freebies + giveaways / run a competition

8. Promote your online stuff everywhere, not just on the internet.

9. Joint promotions with carefully selected partners (cut costs and vastly increase reach)

10. Cultivate media contacts - send out press releases, results of surveys, industry news

11. .Make an original / entertaining comment about somebody or something topical.

12. Participate on other websites. Comment on blogs. Post positive reviews. Email questions to experts.

13.Be nice. Speak well of others. Meet as many new people as possible. Never be afraid to (briefly) talk about your business + USPs.

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